By Carter B. Horsley
This day sale of Impressionist
& Modern Art at Sotheby's November 5, 2009 is highlighted
by a very fine Fauve watercolor by Henri Matisse, a very strong
landscape by Gustave Caillebotte, an excellent still life by James
Ensor, a very good early drawing by Pablo Picasso, an impressive
metaphysical painting by Giorgio de Chirico, a good seascape by
Albert Marquet, an imposing work by Gabriele Munter, and a striking
painting by Robert Delaunay.
Lot 106 is the superb watercolor
on paper by Henri Matisse. Entitled "Bord de Mer, Collioure,"
it measures 8 1/8 by 10 ¼ inches and was executed circa
1905. It has a conservative estimate of $50,000 to $70,000. It
sold for $110,500 including the buyer's premium as do all results
mentioned in this article.
Lot 113 is a very strong landscape
by Gustave Caillebotte (1848-1894) that is entitled "Les
Champs, Plaine de Gennevilliers, Etude en Jaune et Vert."
An oil on canvas, it measures 21 ¼ inches by 25 ½
inches and was painted circa 1884. It has a conservative estimate
of $200,000 to $300,000. It sold for $398,500.
James Ensor (1860-1949) is
an eccentric 20th Century painter who was fascinated by masks
and who favored reddish palettes. Lot 142, "Magots, Pots
& Coquillages," is a fine still life by him. An oil on
canvas, it measures 23 7/8 by 29 7/8 inches and was painted in
1931. It has a conservative estimate of $120,000 to $180,000.
It sold for $206,500.
The catalogue provides the
"James Ensor is widely
considered one of the finest Belgian painters of the 20th Century.
His unique style and subject matter show a clear reaction to pointillism
and a strong influence from the old masters of Northern Europe.
In depicting this still life of sundry objects, Ensor shows a
strange fascination with the weird and wonderful artifacts and
ornaments of his mother's souvenir shops in Ostende, where he
grew up as a child. The painterly and mannered approach to his
work makes the otherwise mundane objects come alive in a bold
and color-filled composition."
Lot 146 is a study for a painting
of the same name that was once owned by John Hay Whitney and which
was sold November 4, 2009 at Sotheby's evening auction. The subject
was painted four times by Edgar Degas (1834-1917) and the catalogue
notes that the "prototype" is in the collection of the
Clark art Institute and that other drawings are in the Walters
Art Gallery and Hill-Stead Museum. It has an estimate of $200,000
to $250,000. It sold for $302,500.
Lot 148 is a very fine charcoal
and colored crayon on paper by Pablo Picasso (1881-1973). Entitled
"Desigualdad (Négalité)," it measures
6 by 9 ¼ inches and was executed in 1901. It has a modest
estimate of $100,000 to $150,000. It sold for $182,500.
"In October of 1900,"
the catalogue notes, "both Pablo Picasso and his close friend
Carles Casagemas left Barcelona for Paris in order to see the
conclusion of the Exposition Universelle, where Picasso had a
painting on view in the Spanish Pavilion
sojourn was short-lived, however, and the two artists soon ran
out of funds
.A fortnight after their return to Spain, Picasso
urged his brooding friend to accompany him to Malaga in an effort
to cheer him up. Casagemas' mood was sourced by the absence of
his lover and muse, Germaine
, whom he met shortly after
arriving in Paris. To his dismay, Germaine rebuffed his demand
for her to leave her husband
.Longing to see her again, the
forlorn Casagemas returned to Paris in February of 1901. Shortly
after his arrival, however, Casagemas attempted to shoot Germaine
in public view with friends while dining at the Hippodrome and
turned his gun on himself. The suicide of Carles Casagemas had
a profound impact on the cadre of Catalan ex-patriots
one was more devastated than Picasso, his closest friend, who
was in Madrid at the time. Picasso's sullen mood was quickly reflected
by his artistic output resulting in the so-called Blue Period."
Lot 114 is a small pen and
ink and charcoal drawing on paper by Picasso of a standing naked
woman. Executed in 1906, it has an estimate of $200,000 to $300,000.
It is property of the Arthur M. Sackler Collections. It failed
Lot 180 is a large wool tapestry
by Le Corbusier (1887-1965). Entitled "L'Etrange Oiseau et
Le Taureau," it measures 90 by 143 1/8 inches and is number
6 in an edition of 6. It has an estimate of $20,000 to $30,000.
It failed to sell. The catalogue notes that Le Corbusier
rarely explained his works but did remarked that in this tapestry,
the "strange" bird is a multi-colored crow with a red
masculine face and represents him.
Lot 197 is a very fine drawing
of Arthur Lowenstein, the composer, by Egon Schiele (1890-1918).
The colored pencil and charcoal on paper measures 9 1/8 by 9 ¼
inches and was drawn in 1909. It has an estimate of $150,000 to
$250,000. It failed to sell. Lowenstein was a member of
the Neukunstgruppe, an independent artists' collective formed
in reaction to the conservative teachings of the Vienna Academy
of Arts, according to the catalogue entry, and Schiele had persuaded
him to join the group.
Lot 254 is a large and impressive
painting by Giorgio de Chirico (1888-1968). Entitled "Trovatore,"
it is an oil on canvas that measures 39 5/8 by 27 ½ inches
and was painted in 1949. It has an estimate of $400,000 to $600,000.
It sold for $1,734,500.
The catalogue notes that the
work "marks de Chirico's return to some of his earlier and
most iconic themes," adding that "A brightly colored,
totemic structure stands in a dusk-lie square based on a piazza
in Ferrara, a scene featured in his Metafisica paintings of the
1910s." "The celebrated figure of de Chirico's Trovatore
series is a re-imagination of the artist himself, of the melancholic
poet trapped in an enigmatic reality
.The faceless man, constructed
from an assortment of instruments and geometric shapes, originated
in the intense intellectual and artistic collaboration between
de Chirico, his brother, Alberto Savinio and the poet Guillaume
The cover illustration of the
catalogue is Lot 136, "Voiliers à Sète,"
a luminous marine painting by Albert Marquet (1875-1947). An oil
on canvas, it measures 25 ¾ by 31 7/8 inches and was painted
in 1924. It has an estimate of $400,000 to $600,000. It sold
Lot 143 is a lovely oil sketch
by Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919) of young girls standing by
a boat in Argenteuil. An oil on canvas that measures 21 ¼
by 25 ½ inches, it was executed circa 1896. It has an estimate
of $650,000 to $950,000. It failed to sell.
Lot 162 is a dramatic encaustic
on canvas laid down on board by Robert Delaunay (1885-1941). Entitled
"Arc en Ciel," it depicts a rainbow with the Eiffel
Tower in the background. It measures 14 7/8 by 22 ¾ inches
and was painted in 1914. It sold for $362.500.
The work, according to the
catalogue entry, "is an iconic example of the artist's revolutionary
transition away from his earlier Cubist style towards his initiation
of the Orphist movement
.Delaunay's study of color theory
was influenced by the painting of Georges Seurat, whose use of
contrasting and complementary colors in his pointillist compositions
revolutionized painting at the end of the 19th century. Delaunay
expanded upon the expressive potential of color in his painting,
allowing an emphasis on color to dominate over the strictures
Lot 195 is an excellent landscape
by Gabriele Munter (1877-1962) entitled "Landscaft mit Einoedhof
(Landscape with Farmhouse)." An oil on canvas, it measures
34 ¾ by 25 ¾ inches and was painted circa 1914.
It has an estimate of $500,000 to $800,000. It sold for $722,500.
The catalogue notes that the painting "is a wonderful panoramic
depiction of the Bavarian countryside surrounding the small town,
Murnau," adding that "after many years of traveling
throughout Europe with her companion Wassily Kandinsky, she returned
with him to Munich in late 1908 and shortly afterwards discovered
the enchanting village of Murnau
.In 1911, Kandinsky and
Munter together with fellow artists such as Alexej von Jawlensky,
Franc Marc and August Macke founded the avant-garde movement der
Rudolf Bauer (1889-1953) was,
according to the catalogue, a principal innovator and exponent
of Non-objective painting and he became a prominent figure in
the avant-garde circle at Herwarth Walden's famed Galerie Der
Sturm, alongside fellow luminaries such as Paul Klee, Franz Marc
and Wassily Kandinsky.
Lot 196, "Composition"
is a superb example of Bauer's work and is an oil on canvas that
measures 34 ¼ by 39 inches. Executed in 1918, it has a
modest estimate of $150,000 to $200,000. It sold for $290,500.
This work was once in the collection of the Solomon R. Guggenheim
Museum in New York.